Empty Pockets, Full Imagination - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Empty Pockets, Full Imagination

Empty Pockets, Full Imagination

Published July 23, 2010

Every summer for the past six years, Reykjavík’s local youth centre, Hitt Húsið, has offered support and assistance for art groups around the city. The programme aims to provide various groups with time and space to work on their craft. This is a pretty cool initiative, by all accounts.
Garún is one of these art collectives, devoting their summer to producing as much art as they can manage. The group is comprised of Sigurður Ámundason, Arnljótur Sigurðsson and Freydís Kristófersdóttir. We met up with them for a chat.  
Treasure out of trash
The name Garún, chosen for no apparent reason according to Sigurður, is appropriated from an old, Icelandic folktale reminiscent of the ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. “We work separately [on each piece], but it all comes down to a single idea. It meets at one point, which is Garún,” comments Arnljótur, when describing how their sculptures have evolved from one week to the next.
These young artists are using their allotted eight-week period to create various sculptures and structures out of found materials and trash.  The group claims that they are trying to use any materials they can snag for free around the city. This has included everything from wooden pallets and spare paint, to daffodils and violets. Garún hopes to prove to people, says Arnljótur, that, “they can make something useful or beautiful out of things they thought were worthless and just trash.”
From these unconventional materials, the group has fashioned many colourful and eclectic structures. They’ve created an odd assortment of outlandish creatures, sea monsters, flower arrangements and chalk drawings. Each piece, they hope, will serve as a light-hearted reminder to enjoy the simple things in life. “At the end of the day, after they see it, maybe they’ll be a bit happier,” Freydís comments.
No fancy pants!
The group has displayed their work all over the city, but rarely in a gallery. “The sculptures are placed where they shouldn’t be or where they wouldn’t normally be. We’re bringing new surroundings to art,” Freydís remarks. Each piece is temporary and moveable, requiring the group to carry them around to wherever they will appear next. Some of Garún’s transient sculptures have appeared in Tjörnin by city hall, Lækjartorg, and on the many sidewalks of Reykjavík.
Another point Garún wants to make clear is that art can be extremely accessible. “We’re showing people that they don’t need anything to do it. They just have to follow their own ideas,” says Arnljótur. “They don’t need to buy those fancy paints,” Freydís seconds, “or a gallery, or anything.” Arnljótur conveys the idea well when explaining, “the city is our stage.” What better city to demonstrate this than in Reykjavík, where Sigurður admits, “I don’t think I know anyone downtown that’s not an artist at some point.”
You can follow Garún’s progress on-line here, and leran of future shows: http://garun.tumblr.com

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